Almost everyone in the sports world and on the Internet agreed that the Washington Football Team was going to be bad throughout the 2020 season, and through six weeks, the Washington Football Team is undoubtedly bad.
So, why are people so upset at the Burgundy and Gold’s badness?
If the majority of people expected this group to be good in 2020, and then they turned out to be bad, then the uproar would be understandable. That’s not what’s happening, though. A roster that was projected to be bad is on a bad track, yet folks are still growing more and more furious by the day.
Well, a few reasons exist for that anger.
Perhaps the primary one is that Washington’s coach seemed more than prepared to accept that 2020 was going to be bad, but then he recently appeared to change his stance and now wants to pursue a good record, even as things continue to go badly.
On Monday, Ron Rivera told the media he thinks his “message has been consistent.” It wasn’t shocking to hear that, just like it’s not overly difficult to point out places where the message hasn’t been so consistent.
After winning the opener, Washington left their next two losses with timeouts still at their disposal, opting to let the clock run out as opposed to truly making every second count. On top of that, in Arizona, Rivera chose to kick a field goal — despite that kick not changing the fact that his squad was down three possessions — so his offense could avoid the risk of getting shut out.
Those choices weren’t aggressive and were geared toward keeping his team healthy, both physically and mentally, for the long run. They certainly weren’t widely approved, as Rivera faced criticism for them, but they did at least line up with his oft-repeated desire to not chase present wins at the cost of sacrificing future, sustainable success.
But then, as the rest of the NFC East stumbled, Rivera began bringing up pushing for a playoff berth. Gone was his focus on the next two or three years, which was replaced by a desire to get hot over the next few weeks.
Kyle Allen is now starting for Washington in large part because Rivera believes Allen gives them their best opportunity to take advantage of the division. Rivera also went for two in New York in order to try and capture a win right then and there.
On their own, those decisions are justifiable as well. The problem, though, is that they differ so much when held up next to what Rivera was doing in previous games.
At first, winning later was the priority. Now, winning now is. Rivera has clearly become the organization’s single voice, and that’s valuable, but at times, it feels like that voice is saying contradictory things.
Another reason for the growing displeasure with Washington’s performance is that, even with an entirely new coaching staff, a bunch of new free agent signings and a new rookie class, what’s happening on the field doesn’t feel new at all.
The franchise has trailed at halftime of every matchup this season. Every one. That was an issue under Jay Gruden, and it hasn’t gotten better.
The defense, a unit that was supposed to be a top-10 operation if not even better than that, starts slow, has tackling troubles and gives up chunk yardage constantly. Those were issues under Greg Manusky, and they haven’t gotten better.
The offense, meanwhile, had their best third-down output of their campaign so far against the Giants — and they’re still 30th in the NFL overall. Terry McLaurin is the only legitimate threat that can be relied on. Three quarterbacks have taken snaps and Week 6 just wrapped up. Those were all issues in 2019, and they haven’t gotten better.
To put it as simply as possible, Washington was 1-5 through their first six games last year. That’s exactly where they stand now.
Those two factors are why this bad start is just not sitting well with people.
A bad start, after all, is a lot easier to take when there’s a strong plan in place and some small progress being made. A team can be bad but simultaneously show signs of knowing what they have to do to reach a good level and begin their journey toward that.
Neither is happening in Washington these days. Everything’s bad. In other words, everything’s normal.